Ramsey Asks Control Panel for Tougher Laws

Article excerpt

The D.C. financial control board is considering giving Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey public-safety law changes - including fighting prostitution - that the D.C. Council did not.

Chief Ramsey yesterday urged the board to enact laws intended to combat brazen prostitutes who ply their trade with little fear of arrest.

He also asked the board to change the city's law to require two years of college for new officers, tighten moonlighting rules for off-duty officers and allow residents to serve as primary witnesses in quality-of-life misdemeanors.

Mary Jane DeFrank, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Capital Region, told the board it should respect the council's decisions on laws targeting prostitutes. Besides, she said, no law changes are needed to curb the sex trade.

"All of these issues have appropriately gone before the D.C. Council and all have failed," she said. "We've had enough of our home rule taken away."

The latest proposed law is based on clothing worn by hookers. Police could arrest scantily clad persons in public places who are beckoning passers-by and are known to be prostitutes.

The council removed similar language from anti-prostitution legislation passed earlier this summer.

Chief Ramsey noted that the site of the meeting, Luther Place Memorial Church at 1226 Vermont Ave. NW, is in the heart of the city's red light district and located one block from the control board's office at Thomas Circle.

"Tonight this whole neighborhood changes right around this church," Chief Ramsey said, again lamenting laws that hamstring police in their efforts to arrest prostitutes and their customers. "It's like, `If you want to get away with something, come into D.C. and get away with it.' "

The chief appeared to have a sympathetic audience in the three control board members who were present. …